From the return of the King to the magic of Messi… the people of the months of 2012
23:08 GMT, 23 December 2012
As a dramatic and memorable 2012 draws to a close, Michael Walker looks back on a year on the footballing road, naming his people of the month from January through to December…
January: Thierry Henry
They will not forget 9/1/12 in north London. It was the night King Henry came back to Arsenal, hopped off the bench and scored the only goal in an FA Cup third-round tie against Leeds. They were crying out for a special occasion at the stadium. Henry walked past his statue outside the ground and delivered.
Return of the King: Henry celebrates netting the winner against Leeds
February: Eddie Howe
In his Burnley office, one of England's brightest young managers discussed the fact that the Premier League had just three English managers while, in the Championship, there were 17. 'Strange', was Howe's assessment. Adkins and Allardyce have since upped the numbers. Howe's back at Bournemouth.
March: Pete Williams
On a bitter Tuesday night in Burslem, Pete Williams was outside Port Vale's grand old ground with a bucket. It is people like Williams – supporters – who keep clubs going. Vale's future was in doubt in March. They had entered administration and been docked 10 points. Thanks to fans such as Williams, Vale are going again, second in League Two.
April: Brian McDermott
It was easier being Reading's manager in April. The club had just returned to the Premier League by winning 14 of 16 league games from the end of January. The previous May's play-off final defeat could be forgotten and McDermott spoke of his 'lovely club'. Along the way, he turned down Wolves. Some people may choose to forget that.
Man of the hour: McDermott is hoisted aloft by his players after securing the Championship title
May: Harry Gregg
48 hours after Manchester United had the title snatched out of their hands by Sergio Aguero, Sir Alex Ferguson took his players to Belfast to honour Harry Gregg. Sometimes the build-up to testimonials is more meaningful than the game and, in the programme, Ferguson recalled hearing of the 1958 Munich crash and wrote: 'Harry, for this 16-yearold from Govan, you were and remain my hero.'
June: Vicente Del Bosque
Remember when Spain were boring In northern Poland, Del Bosque was flabbergasted at the lack of understanding of his team's style, and the non-stop chatter. He was visibly bemused: Spain were about to become the first country in history to win three major tournaments in a row. Del Bosque reminisced to a time when there was less noise inside and outside the game, to a time when 'dressing rooms were utterly still, like inside a cathedral'.
Champions of Europe: Del Bosque's side parade through the streets of Madrid
July: Stewart Regan
Thunderous July rain in Glasgow accompanied an apocalyptic vision. Regan, the SFA chief executive, reacted to Rangers' shock exclusion from the SPL by inviting reporters upstairs at Hampden Park to warn of 'Armageddon' and 'the game withering on the vine' if Rangers were forced to re-start below Scottish Division One. A month later, Rangers drew 2- 2 at Peterhead in Division Three.
August: Rob Green
He didn't look happy and you could understand why. After six years at West Ham, Green joined QPR. His debut was a 5-0 home defeat by Swansea. Yet, 10 days later, against Walsall in the League Cup, it got worse. QPR won 3-0, but up in the stands was Julio Cesar. QPR were making a statement. Green, given no explanation, was left to read between its lines. Shoddy.
Shunned: Green was harshly treated by QPR
September: Margaret Aspinall
The report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel was a release of sorts for the Family Support Group. Football responded, notably Everton on the night they hosted Newcastle. They played the Hollies' He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Margaret recalled that her son James, 18, killed at Hillsborough, had bought the record for her.
October: Georgios Samaras
Unlikely, unfashionable but unflagging, Samaras had a year to remember. He was relentless for Greece at Euro 2012 and, for Celtic, he has been decisive in Europe. It was his deflected header in October that gave them a lead in Barcelona. They lost to a late goal, but we all know what happened when Barca came to Celtic Park two weeks later.
Unlikely hero: Samaras (right) heads home in Barcelona
November: Chib Chilaka
For a while, it seemed like the most memorable feature of Torquay v Harrogate in the FA Cup first round proper would be the view from Plainmoor. Then, beaming Chilaka popped up for Harrogate to produce a trademark upset. Afterwards, he spoke like an ambassador for the part-time game. It was a classic FA Cup day.
December: Lionel Messi
We are fortunate to be witnessing greatness. Some can moan about the calendar year goal-tally, but not over Messi's talent. He has joined the list of the true greats at 25. Without him, Barcelona would be a very good team; with him, they are as good a side as has been seen. A prediction for 2013, or more like a guess: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea (again) and Arsenal will have new managers in place by August. For United, that would mean the end of the Ferguson era. It is difficult to behold, but if another title or European Cup comes, it would be an appropriately successful way for Ferguson to go. But it is an if.
The world's greatest: Messi celebrates yet another goal for Barcelona